NYPD Open Data is Everywhere And Nowhere

January 13, 2015

DSCN9541It turns out that there is a huge amount of New York City Police Department data strewn across various NYC government websites. Did you know that you can find fourteen months of 911 response times to critical and non-critical incidents up to 12/22/14? That, plus copious data on crimes, crashes, and stop and frisk is all online. The problem is that this highly sought-after data is all over the place, hard to find, and often easily overlooked on poorly designed web pages.

We took a closer look at NYPD data after a recent article in City Limits pointed out that the NYPD has only published a few data sets in the NYC Open Data Portal. The idea behind the 2012 New York City Open Data Law is to get all agency data hosted on or linked from one portal, where it is easier to find and use. That is simply not happening, and NYPD is Exhibit A. NYPD’s data is strewn across numerous web sites, web pages and (if the data is about NYPD performance) is being published on an entirely different site. The Mayor’s Office of Operations publishes much of the NYPD’s data. This data is not linked to a central listing and is essentially impossible to find by searching NYC.gov, the NYPD website or the open data portal.

Here is what we see:

1. The Open Data Portal includes some highly sought crime and crash data published by the NYPD, but this is a small portion the NYPD’s online data and does not include important data about NYPD performance. The usefulness of the Open Data Portal is significantly undercut because there are no links to important NYPD performance metrics gathered by the Mayor’s Office of Operations. There are very few links to the copious amounts of data on the NYPD website. (Notably, large amounts of valuable data on the CPR: Citywide Performance Reporting site are not published or linked to the Open Data Portal.) Additionally, the search function on the Open Data Portal does not produce a comprehensive list of all NYPD-related data.

2. There are multiple NYC.gov web sites with significant NYPD related data – 911 call response times, for instance – which are not linked from either the NYPD website or the Open Data Portal.

3. The NYPD website is a complete mess and data is scattered all over it; there is no single page for downloadable data. We indexed the directories on the NYPD website and found 400+ downloadable spreadsheets, many of which are difficult or downright impossible to find via the site’s search function or by browsing. It appears only a small portion of this data is on the Open Data Portal.

4. The NYC.gov search engine does not produce ranked or clear search results of the available data sets.

Cuomo Announces Second Term Administration

January 12, 2015

Here are the legal, policy and economic development appointments Governor Cuomo announced today. See the full press release for a complete list of administration appointments.

Appointments requiring Senate confirmation:

Howard Zemsky, President and CEO of Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC.)
Kenneth Adams, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Carol Robles-Román, Board of Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY).
Joanie Mahoney, Chair of the Board of the State Thruway Authority.

The Governor made the following nine appointments to the Executive Chamber:

John Maggiore, Director of Policy.
Katie Codey, Deputy Director of Policy.
Leslea Snyder, Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs.
Terence O’Leary, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety.
R. Nadine Fontaine, Assistant Counsel to the Governor
Julia Pinover Kupiec, Assistant Counsel to the Governor with a focus on Housing.
Angela Sherrer, Assistant Counsel to the Governor with a focus on Public Safety.
Anna Adams-Sarthou, Deputy Press Secretary.
Sandy Castor,Program Associate for Transportation.



Governors Release Special Christmas Report on Port Authority Reform

December 27, 2014

In their joint press statement announcing the veto of a bill mandating fundamental governance reforms to the Port Authority, Governor’s Cuomo and Christie said they would be seeking new, improved, legislation based on the 103 page Special Report to the Governors,  which they released to the public this evening — a Saturday two days after Christmas.

Port report








Gov. Cuomo’s Veto of Port Authority Reform Bill — Approval of FOI Bill

December 27, 2014

Citizens Union, Reinvent Albany New York Public Interest Research Group
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

Statement Regarding Governor Cuomo’s Veto of Port Authority Reform Legislation
And Approval of FOI Legislation

We appreciate Governor Cuomo signing a bill improving the Port Authority’s Freedom of Information process. However, Governor Cuomo missed a big opportunity to put the Port Authority on the right track by vetoing the bill reforming governance.

It is obvious that the Port Authority has lost its way, and Governors Cuomo and Christie have now vetoed a bill which was unanimously supported by the state legislatures of New York and New Jersey, numerous public stakeholders and editorial boards. This much-needed legislation would have put in place fundamental reforms necessary to make the Port Authority far more accountable now.

The commission created to review the Port Authority recommended other measures but, this should not have precluded the Governors approving a bill implementing much-needed reforms.

The joint statement from Governors Cuomo and Christie says “Both Governors embrace the spirit and intent of the extensive reforms contained in the omnibus pending legislation.” Our groups hope they act on this spirit by working closely with both state legislatures––and public stakeholders––in a transparent process to introduce and pass comprehensive reforms in the Port Authority’s governance this session.

Statement Port Authority Transparency Accountability Bills 12.27.14

Utah and Feds are Email Transparency Models

December 19, 2014

background-secondaryEarlier this year, Utah’s State Records Committee required state agencies to being keeping the email records of “executive decision makers” permanently, and the email records of rank and file state employees for at least seven years. Utah’s email retention policy is very similar to the “Capstone” program the federal government plans to adopt in 2015. Utah’s rules essentially requires that all emails by top managers be archived per:

Incoming and outgoing business-related correspondence, regardless of format or mode of transmission, that provides unique information relating to the functions, policies, procedures or programs of an agency. These records document executive decisions made regarding agency interests. Executive decision makers may include the Director, Chief Administrative Officer, Public Information Officer or other internal administrators as identified by the executive office.

Utah also requires agencies to keep almost all non-executive emails for seven years. Utah defines these emails as:

Incoming and outgoing business-related correspondence, regardless of format or mode of transmission, created in the course of administering agency functions and programs. Administrative correspondence documents work accomplished, transactions made, or actions taken.

According to Utah officials the state does not automatically delete any emails. In sharp contrast, New York State has a policy of automatically deleting emails left in in boxes longer than 90 days.  Records “retention” and archiving policies are a hugely important complement to Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. FOI laws govern which records must be released to the public. Archiving laws govern which records (including emails) must be kept. Without strong archiving laws, FOI is next to useless, because government officials may choose to shred or delete records that they do not want released under FOI laws.

Utah is providing a great example for states and cities looking to move their email retention policies squarely into the 21st century.